Muttiah Muralitharan, the legendary Sri Lankan off-spinner, believes that Australia have the resources to pip the hosts, who were incidentally thrashed 2-0 in the recently concluded Test series in England. Moreover, Sri Lanka are on a rebuilding path after the retirements of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.
"Australia is favourite at the moment because they have played good cricket in the recent past," Muralitharan said on Tuesday (July 5). "Sri Lanka, on other hand, are struggling a bit in all forms of the game, so Australia will have an edge over them.
"They have a chance of winning the series because the Sri Lankan side is very inexperienced as a lot of players retired recently and they are rebuilding the side, so they won't be strong enough. Therefore, Australia I think will have a good chance of winning the series. If they use the conditions properly and play their spinners well they definitely have a chance," he added.
The Australian think-tank has roped in Thilan Samaraweera, the former Sri Lankan middle-order batsman, to gain valuable tips about playing spin on turning tracks. Samaraweera, who notched up 3,123 runs at a noteworthy average of 53.84 in the longest format of the game at home, has already started work with the trio of Adam Voges, Shaun Marsh, and Jackson Bird at Australia's National Cricket Centre.
On his part, Muralitharan noted that the Australian batsmen need to put the runs on the board for spinners to come into play. He also picked Rangana Herath, the canny left-arm spinner, as the major threat for the Australian camp.
"Normally you have to play at least two spinners in Sri Lanka because wickets are slower. Sometimes wickets take lot of turn, otherwise we have slow wickets and fast bowlers do not have much assistance unless they reverse (swing) the ball. They got to have variety to win series in Sri Lanka.
"It is not just about how many spinners you have got. It is also about how well you are going to bat against spin. Rangana Herath is a very good bowler so they (Australia) will have to tackle him as well. You've got to put runs on the board for your bowlers to work on it."
The visitors will look up to Nathan Lyon, the off-spinner, to lead the attack and take a slew of wickets. Muralitharan, who worked with the New South Welshman during the tour of UAE in 2014, praised Lyon for his ability to succeed in different conditions.
"Lyon is a very good bowler, a very good off-spinner. He has proven himself in Test cricket and has taken a lot of wickets for Australia. He bowls in different conditions (in Australia) which are not much helpful for spin but on the turning wickets he has taken some wickets," Muralitharan summed up.